Francken accuses EU Commissioner of hypocrisy

The Secretary of State responsible for Asylum and Migration Theo Francken (Flemish nationalist) admits that in hindsight it would have been better not to have used the word “circumnavigate” when referring to article 3 of the European Treaty on Human Rights. However, he used an interview on Wednesday morning to accuse the European Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos of hypocrisy.

Article 3 of the European Treaty on Human Rights expressly forbid torture. A 2012 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights said that push backs (the sending back of boats containing migrants) are covered by article 3 of the human rights treaty.

After Tuesday’s meeting of EU asylum ministers failed to reach an agreement, Mr Francken had spoken of “circumnavigating” article 3. He now admits that his choice of words could have been better and that he should have said “redirecting the boats to Tunisia”.  

"Just to be clear I am not calling for a mass violation article 3”.

On Tuesday the European Commission Avramopoulos had criticised Mr Francken’s proposals to send migrants back to North Africa on boats.  

However, according Mr Francken the European Commissioner has already had talks in Tunisia to discuss doing just that.

"He has also reached an agreement with Sudan, something that I very nearly had to resign over”.

"In Turkey we did a deal with Erdogan, we have an agreement with the militias in Libya, who are the African champions when it comes to human rights violations.  

"They say that hypocrisy is the Vaseline of the Wetstraat (the street that houses the federal parliament). I believe that the same is true of the Schuman Square (the heart of Brussels European District). This has been proved to be true again today”, Mr Francken added

In a reaction the Prime Minister Charles Michel said that Belgium respects its European treaty commitments including those regarding asylum.  

"However, we don’t agree with the opposition that wants to just throw open the borders. Border controls are necessary in order to ensure security in Europe. Let us work with Frontex to secure Europe’s borders and ensure the security of our fellow citizens.